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Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback therapy is a technique that trains people how to improve their health by controlling certain bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and skin temperature. Electrodes attached to your skin measure these processes and display them on a monitor. With help from a biofeedback therapist, you can learn to change your heart rate or blood pressure, for example. At first you use the monitor to see your progress, but eventually you will be able to achieve success without the monitor or electrodes. Biofeedback is an effective therapy for many conditions, but it is primarily used to treat high blood pressure, tension headaches, migraine headaches, chronic pain and urinary incontinence.

The three most commonly used forms of biofeedback therapy are:

  • Electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle tension
  • Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature
  • Neurofeedback or electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain wave activity

Biofeedback instruments provide instant feedback on a patient’s measurable levels of stress.

Patients learn to become more aware of the different effects of stress on the body, such as tense muscles, increased heart rate, more rapid breathing, a drop in blood flow and increased skin conductivity.  Using computers, they learn how to control the physical effects of stress in this 8-10 week program.

Patients are taught the Relaxation Response, in which they learn to relax muscles one by one, from head to toe. They will also learn about visualization and diaphragmatic breathing, which is deep breathing from the belly rather than the more typical shallow breathing from the upper lungs.

Most clients attend sessions once a week for eight weeks or as ordered by a physician.  

What We Treat:

  • Acute/chronic pain syndromes
  • Referred pain, in which pain is felt in one spot but originates from another part of the body
  • Myofascial pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Complex regional pain
  • Cancer pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cervical whiplash
  • Low back
  • Laminectomy
  • Shoulder Impingement
    • Unstable shoulder
  • Upper trapezius myalgia
  • Upper extremity
  • Carpal tunnel
  • RSD (Reflex sympathetic dystrophy)
  • Cumulative trauma
  • Repetitive strain
  • Pelvic
  • Fecal/urinary incontinence
  • Dyspareunia
  • Constipation

Neurological disorders

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Migraine

Cardiac disorders

  • Hypertension

Stress-related disorders

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Panic attacks
  • Job-related stress
  • Tinnitus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)

Who We Treat

Children and adults who are able to:

  • Follow instructions
  • Have a good attention span

What you can expect with biofeedback training:

  • Improved self-awareness of effects of stress on the body
  • Learn relaxation and pain-control techniques
  • Better posture, which will correct strain from muscle guarding
  • Fewer stress symptoms and a renewed sense of physical, mental well-being

Our biofeedback instruments and techniques:

  • Stress monitoring
  • Thermal feedback, which measures blood flow to the skin
  • Electrodermal feedback, which measures skin conductivity from the fingers and the palm.  Skin conductivity, or skin resistance, can be used to measure emotion. It varies with the moisture level of hands and activity of sweat glands, which are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Pneumograph feedback, measures breathing patterns
  • Photoplethsymograph, measures heart rate, pulse
  • Surface electromyography, measures muscle tension and is used with pain disorders involving muscles of the neck, back and limbs. It is useful in rehab and retraining muscle control.

Our licensed and registered occupational therapists are certified by the American Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

For more information about evaluation and treatment, please call (708) 531-7950. To make an appointment, please call (708) 216-5300.